Tag Archives: Airports

The End of Automobiles and Locals Dominating Airports

Kansas City     Flying in and out of the Kansas City International airport is like a snapshot back in another time, more specifically a time when automobiles and the convenience of local customers dominated planning and performance.   Airports, and some train stations like the new ones in German cities like London, Berlin and Dusseldorf, are basically shopping malls where trains and planes slow down and pick up or drop off customers.  KCI reminds a flyer how quaint old airports use to operate.

Kansas City is made for Kansas City area residents.  They love being able to drop their family members off or pick them up right in at the gate.  The airport concourses are shaped like semi-circular pods so that if you live around here and are in the know, you can park inside the semi-circle and walk to your gate.  This is an airport built for speed from the street to the tarmac.  The addition of security from TSA means that rather than one centralized intake center common in most airports, old and new, there are stanchions in the hallways around groups of gates.  There are no real lines, and if you know your gate and walking right to it, this is faster for you.

Modern airports, like the new billion-dollar New Orleans airport, are fancy malls with popular local branded stores, shops, and food offerings mixed with the Starbucks, Peets, and other national conveyors.  By comparison, KCI is a strip mall in one of our neighborhoods with a bar, a newsstand, a pawn shop, and a tattoo parlor.  The whole airport is built on the premise of a convenience store not for sales, but for desperate items that you forgot or didn’t have time to purchase at home in Lee’s Summit or Emporia or someplace.  No one but the stranded and hapless business traveler would need to buy anything.  The California Pizza Kitchen workers didn’t bother to show for work and open up until close to 2pm in the afternoon in Terminal B.  The young woman working at the Great American Bagel & Bakery has been sitting behind the counter for the last half-hour on her phone with no customers in Terminal C.   The assumption seems to be:  who would bother?

If you have to change planes from one concourse to another, you have to leave security, go outside, and wait for the Red Bus that the loudspeaker announces will arrive every fifteen minutes.  Why would you be doing that the architect seems to be saying? Aren’t you just walking to her car to drive home?  Why would you be changing planes or meeting anyone from another terminal?  You must not be from here?

The giant Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is also built of similar interconnecting pods to suit the locals and automobiles, but at least there is a train that moves connectors from terminal to terminal on the ground level.  Otherwise, it seems like the same architect with a smaller budget was working in Kansas City.  They say there is a new airport being built here, but the only visible proof of that are more roads being built around the spaces between the terminals.  That’s not a good sign.  Airports of the future are less for commuters and more for connectors, and more for flyers than drivers.  The future is already here, and it doesn’t look like this in the 21st century.


Objectifying Women: Are we Crossing the Border to Mexico?

Full Body ScanNew Orleans The old warning, “Look Don’t Touch,” seems to be the likely compromise on the TSA pat down versus x-ray screening controversy.  A woman’s quote in the Times that “I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants” was harrowing especially since the search was for a pocket tissue and hair band on an elementary school teacher from Pohdunk, Washington.  Being a frequent flyer, I’m soft on the issue of screening.  When I’m in the air, I want to stay there until I land.  I’m funny that way.  If the price of that is a little delay, some metal detection, even the air machine, and the sloppy pat down in international airports, I can hang.  Ok, I’m not for folks touching my junk, but I’ve been lucky maybe.

Not everyone is.  Looking at the issue from a woman’s perspective, I started to worry that the insensitivity might be moving the wrong direction in these days when the dark cloud is covering so much of our culture and politics coming in hard from the right.  A piece by Michelle Garcia at www.racialicious.com cross-posted from WIMN’s Voices gave me a lot to worry about when it reminded me of the way that class bias in Mexico exploits the poor as drowning in sex and violence, thereby objectifying whatever anyone might want to think or do, and certainly giving license to government and others to ignore the problem and create “pretend solutions.”  Travelers are similar.  Working men and women catching an air-bus, so who cares, right?  The rich can go private planes, private airports, limos to the door, while we fly the pigeons of the sky.  Those women probably should have stayed home, if they are going to complain, right?  Where they belong! Eeeeck!

Sister Garcia’s piece is excellent, balanced, and well reasoned, and certainly gave me a lot to consider in trying wrapping my arms around a number of these issues here, and in Mexico for that matter, though substitute films and TV for newspapers, and it’s a push.  I can’t help but share this:

Video courtesy of Tell ‘Em Who You Are

“He’s dead and she’s half naked. Two images I encounter at every newspaper stand in Mexico City– blood and babes. A magazine cover shows a marijuana leaf and a stiletto heel in the shape of a gun. One newspaper regularly divides its front page with a preening bikini clad woman and cadavers. I’m compelled to believe that the graphicness of the individual images is enhanced when harmonized.

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